Larsen Calls for U.S.-Canadian Cooperation On PNW Issues

Mar 10, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a letter to National Security Advisor Susan Rice earlier this week, Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, outlined important issues for Washington state that he hopes to be incorporated in the high-level discussions with President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Prime Minister’s official visit began this morning.
 
“Since Canada is one of our country’s most important allies, this visit presents an opportunity for the United States and Canada to continue building a strong bilateral relationship. The visit is also a vehicle to advance bilateral cooperation on a number of subjects, including energy, the environment and the economy. In addition to these issues, there are four critical issues that are particularly important to the Pacific Northwest, especially Washington state,” Larsen wrote.
 
Full text of the letter follows.
 
March 7, 2016
 
The Honorable Susan E. Rice
National Security Advisor
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
 
Dear National Security Advisor Rice:
 
President Obama will host Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a state visit on March 10. Since Canada is one of our country’s most important allies, the visit presents an opportunity for the United States and Canada to continue building a strong bilateral relationship. The visit is also a vehicle to advance bilateral cooperation on a number of subjects, including energy, the environment and the economy. In addition to these issues, there are four critical issues that are particularly important to the Pacific Northwest, especially Washington state. I respectfully request that President Obama discuss these in further detail with Prime Minister Trudeau.
 
First, the Columbia River Treaty provides enormous benefits to the Pacific Northwest by facilitating shared water resource management between the United States and Canada. Despite these benefits, an imbalance has emerged in the power benefits recognized under the Treaty. To address this imbalance it is my hope that President Obama can receive a commitment from the Canadian government to engage in Treaty discussions to balance power production. Related to this, it is important that the discussion include the United States and Canadian governments’ commitment to preserving the environment of the Pacific Northwest, and issues related to flood risk management.
 
Second, projected increases in vessel traffic highlight the need for enhanced and effective vessel traffic services (VTS), which provide active monitoring and navigational advice for vessels in confined and busy waterways. Given the changing transportation energy situation in the United States and the recent lifting of the crude oil export ban, now is the time for the United States and Canadian governments to work towards harmonized regulations for the safe and environmentally sensitive transit of natural resources to and from West Coast ports.
 
Third, as these increases in vessel traffic occur, we must remain committed to the vitality of our waterways. For more than two decades, inadequate wastewater treatment in Victoria has plagued the health and habitat of the region’s waters, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca. After several failed attempts at opening a sewage treatment plant, it now appears a solution is nowhere on the horizon. This lack of a solution undermines long-standing efforts at environmental restoration and wastewater management, and it jeopardizes the health of not only the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but all of the region’s waterways.
 
Fourth, the United States shares an interest in the Arctic with Canada. The Arctic offers opportunity for improved science and sea floor mapping, which is critical to keeping people and the environment in the Arctic safe. Ship breaches like the MSV Fennica, a vessel Shell used in its Chukchi Sea energy exploration, could have been avoided if the Arctic had nautical charts at the same level of precision as the rest of our maritime domain. Maritime traffic will continue traversing these difficult regions, and action to avoid breaches must be a priority. Collaboratively, we must invest in scientific research to prevent future disasters and allow safe passage of northern sea routes.
 
While the above is not an exhaustive list of issues between the United States and Canada, I encourage President Obama to address these subjects that are so important to Washington state and the greater Pacific Northwest. Thank you for your attention to these matters and please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Rick Larsen
U.S. Representative
Washington State, 2nd District
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